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Back in Action: S Morgan Burnett Expected to Play Sunday Night vs. Steelers

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Back in Action: S Morgan Burnett Expected to Play Sunday Night vs. Steelers

The Green Bay Packers may very well have one of their primary defensive staples on the field Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

After missing the last two games with a groin injury, safety Morgan Burnett has shown no limitations in practice this week in preparation for the Steelers and what was prematurely slated to be the Packers' most important game of the season when the schedules were released in the spring.

"I'll definitely be out there," Burnett said after Thursday's Thanksgiving practice. "I'm excited, I'm ready to go. I had a good week of practice so now, I just keep making those positive steps forward."

Burnett was a full participant all week, marking the first time since the week leading up to the Monday night loss to the Detroit Lions in which Burnett rebounded from a hamstring injury.

Burnett, 28, is in a contract year with the Packers and has missed four of 10 games due to injury this season. He's currently seventh on the team in tackles: A statistical oddity for Burnett, who has either led or finished second on the team in tackles in five out of the last six seasons.

The Packers could use the veteran savvy on the back end—or in Burnett's case, in the front seven—against the Steelers, who sport one of the NFL's best wide receiver-running back tandems in Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, respectively.

"It's going to be fun, that's why you want to play in this league; to go against the best," Burnett said. "Those guys are very explosive and very athletic at what they do. They're one of the best at their respective positions. ... That's a really good football team over there."

It'll be just the second time in Burnett's career that he's faced the Steelers, despite it being the Packers' third meeting with them in his eight-year career.

He missed Super Bowl 45 due to an ACL tear he suffered in October, ending his rookie season. His first opportunity against the Steelers offense, led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, came in 2013 when the quarterback on the opposite sideline, Aaron Rodgers, was sidelined for seven games with a broken collarbone. A similar story is being scripted four years later with Rodgers sidelined with the same injury to his opposite [right] collarbone.

The 2013 meeting showcased a 105-yard performance for Brown en route to a 38-31 Steelers victory. The Packers are hoping for a little different of a scenario this time around for the sake of their season -- or what's left of it.

"He can line up anywhere on the field. Inside, outside, you just get the ball in his hands; he's a playmaker and he can make people miss. He's a shifty guy, you see it time after time. He's not looking to go down, he's seeking contact and he's looking to make a big play. He's a tough guy. It's fun watching him on film, it's going to be a fun match-up this week."

Burnett returning may mark more of a reserve role for rookie safety and second-round draft pick Josh Jones, who has seen a significant snap increase in his last three games.

Since the aforementioned game against the Lions, Jones has played 100 percent of his snaps. Even when Burnett was on the field in the week 7 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Jones played 68 percent of his defensive snaps while Burnett alternated in a hybrid linebacker position, as he so often does.

In the coming contests, that may be Jones' gig for the taking if Burnett has to retreat into his natural safety position, opening the door in the box for Jones. His chances there in the "nitro" package are even more likely with safety Kentrell Brice on injured reserve.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Curry Rambeau's picture

Happy Thanksgiving to you Zachary and fellow CheseheadTV Packers fans. This article was really well written and a fun read! I think we’re giubg to see a competitive attitude fro our Pack Sunday night. Burnett sounds ready and he’s gonna have his hands full! Let’s hope for a fun game . Go Pack Go!

Zachary Jacobson's picture

Right back at you, man! Hope you and all of our readers had a fantastic Thanksgiving and ate until you couldn't move.

croatpackfan's picture

It is dangerous for Aaron when Packers are playing in regular season against Steelers. He always brokes his collarbone in that season...

I think Packers should ask NFL to put match Packers vs Steelers out of possibility in regular season... For the sake of Aaron...

Handsback's picture

With Morgan and if at least the CBs play decent....this could be a good game. That's if the offense doesn't just give it away.

Nick Perry's picture

Maybe the Packers will hold them below 30 now that Burnett is back. I was concerned about this game even with Rodgers playing. But with Brett (I have NO IDEA what a pocket is) Hundley leading the Packers offense, a banged up O-Line and no Aaron Jones, Ty Montgomery, or TE, I don't have a whole lot of hope for this game.

You know it's bad when I can't even muster up a little hope with my Packers glasses on. After all I had them on so tight at one point this year I said Frackrell would have 8 sacks this season. I've since ditched the glasses and refuse to put them back on until next year. If Thompson is fired then sooner.

Since '61's picture

It's good to hear that Burnett will be returning. However, I'm not very confident that his return will have much of an impact on the final outcome. Thanks, Since '61

al bundy's picture

Hope everyone has a fantastic thanks giving. We now know barring something unusual changing, the Vikes have wrapped up the NFC North and are working on the division now and home field advantage. Congrats to them and to that GM of their GM. Going into the playoffs he will have two first round QB's and a guy who has been lights out.
His team is healthy with only minor inuries and he has one of the best defenses in football.
All this due to great drafting and acquistions and spending money to acquire talent where needed.

Ted didnt do this and I expect the Steelers to walk all over this team. the pack have no defense or offense personnel to compete with them.

Duke Divine's picture

This is huge. Burnett is such an important part of the defense with getting guys lined up and making sure he is sound in his assigments. With Burnett healthy for this game Steelers will score 31 instead if 38!

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